Article excerpt


Runqiang has the important functions of beautifying, decorating and refining singing styles. This article analyzes the concept of Runqiang, its formation origin and its compositional structures.

Key words: Chinese folk music, Runqiang

Résumé: Le veloutement du ton joue le rôle d'embellir, de décorer, d'enjoliver et de représenter le style. Le présent article effectue une analyse du veloutement du ton sur les plans du concept, de l'origine et de la structure.

Mots-Clés: musique vocale nationale de Chine, veloutement du ton

Chinese folk vocal music is rooted in the background of Chinese culture, based on Chinese language and characterized by a unique way of pronunciation and intonation, which emphasizes the correct pronunciation, smooth voice, and the deep emotion behind them, all of which makes Chinese folk music an art of singing which combines voice, emotion, pronunciation, and intonation.2 Therefore it is necessary not only to grasp the correct ways of pronunciation, but also to master various ways of Runqiang in Chinese folk music so as to reach the effect of expressing rich emotions through singing. Runqiang is a series of unique skills formed in the course of the development of Chinese folk music to beautify, decorate and refine singing styles.3 The predecessor Zhangbo Dong has once pointed out "Both music scripts of JiuGongDaCheng and NaShuYing marked the first and third beats in a four-beat line, leaving the second and fourth beats unmarked". Huaiting Ye has also said "The minor beats are marked for beginners. The experienced singers can detect them all by themselves. On the contrary, it constrains the professionals if all the beats are marked in detail."

The tunes of Chinese music (mainly Han music) is often changed, decorated and developed according to different lyrics, music types, singers, time and places so as to reach the effect of richness of music, which is what is called "The framework of a piece of music is the tunes while the highlight is in singing"4 It sets emotions as its center and relies on various ways of Runqiang to refine and supplement the inadequateness of tunes to express emotions; it also mediates between pronunciation and tunes and describes the characteristics and images in the music. Though it does not exist independently, it is an indispensable part and functions coordinately with tunes.


To explore the originality of the formation of Runqiang, we found that the application of Runqiang as a music style in Chinese music can not be separated from the traditional music system which is based on yinchang (a unique way of singing). Yinchang refers to a particular way of singing characterized by a certain kind of flexibility of melody; the tune is relatively fixed rather than invariable. That is to say, in most cases, people pick out different lyrics in accordance to the dominant tunes and play out different music styles according to different time, places, melodies and audiences.

Since the traditional Chinese singing was in the form of yinchang, the tunes and pitches tend to vary greatly. For example, many old Chinese music scripts, including the popular gongchi music scripts in modern times, had a universal characteristic, that is, there was often only a basic framework of music tunes, representing the dominant tones without specific description of details of the musical piece. It follows that strict voice control and script control are not suitable for Chinese music. They would confine a good singer to explore fully the details hidden in the music script, by which to transfer a "dead tune" into a "living tune" and a "dead voice" into a "living voice", which is a general rule of Chinese traditional music.

Runqiang is a unique phenomenon in Chinese music. It originates from the yinchang system, whose originality was related to the long practice of Chinese singing and affected by language rales, singing habits, esthetic requirement and tune types, especially the tune system of Chinese language. …


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